Hurricane Irene

I have been preparing to run the Bronx 1/2 marathon which just got cancelled. I am disappointed, but grateful that this week, I felt prepared to do it. I ran on Tues and Thurs on Fire Island, this time, through the communities on solid ground instead of the shore. All the work on the sand has paid off. And last night, the wind portended the fierce storm that is to come.

Weekly Photo Challenge (flowers)

This image is also my gravatar.  I took it in Monsumano Terme, Italy on my cellphone while running down the mountain.  I see so many images in this photo,  flight, blossoming, aging..

 

 

running into it, or running away

I lost a mentor and a colleague and someone I was always half in love with.  He was my department chairperson when I was a faculty member.  He took good care of me you could say, shepherding me for five years though the tenure process, had a hilarious dry wit, we used to joke for hours sitting side by side at our desks and I wanted to get closer to him but never felt I could.  He didn’t come to work for a few days, but it was summer and the secretary was ignored although she feared something was wrong, until he missed a day when he had appointments, no answer to anyone’s calls or emails.  Another colleague went to his apt.–the tv was on but he did not answer.  They called me, and I called the police, who had to break in, and found his body.  Then I had to find his niece and tell her, the only loving relative we knew of, as well as call most of the department and deliver the terrible news.  I flew to Chicago the next day for a conference, and met his niece there–so incredible that I was on my way and that she lived there.  For a few days, I was at the very center of his death and I was actually grateful to be there, to find a new closeness to him.  My new possessiveness is interesting–when others express their own grief, I am jealous.  No, no, the loss is mine–mine!

I ran yesterday afternoon from Robert Moses Field 5 to Point O’Woods and back, at least 11.5 miles, but I was right on the beach and the curving coast line added more..my longest run ever.  As the sun set, I saw two billowing  storm clouds side by side, anvil shaped but the opposite of anvils in their lightness.  I slowed to greet a grazing doe who batted her long lashes at me and let me come very close. I wanted my run to be dedicated to him, but it became dedicated to me holding on, to me breathing, to me focusing.  I was glad to be alive and began to feel lifted again.  Today I find I have released him a bit.  It saddens me to think so.  I don’t ever want to forget.

The University of Nature

I stayed at Ananda Ashram this weekend in Monroe, NY.  I took three yoga classes, attended a fire ceremony and attended a kirtan led by Shyam Das, one of Neem Karoli’s disciples.  I have not done that much hatha yoga in quite awhile, and I had to just witness the change in my practice,  because doing anything but witnessing, (such as struggling, grasping, raging)  would have just not been yoga. I realize that running has become my yoga, and cannot replace it by a little dabble here and there on the mat.

The founding guru, Sri Sarasvati Brahmanda called Ananda (Bliss) Ashram a university, where nature could teach its students.  The grounds were beautiful, and a family of deer grazed peacefully close to my quarters and a sudden storm surprised us during chanting.  I realized that my love for ashrams and yoga centers is closely linked to the opportunity they hold for communion with nature.  I have found that with running too.

My muscles were tight and sore in unfamiliar places after the classes, on my way back home, I stopped at Robert Moses State Park and ran for 45 minutes as the sun went down. I found my focus, I went inside and began to check in..my posture, my stride, the sensations..When I was done, I felt as if I had shaken out all the tightness and my legs were like rubber bands, ahh, that felt better…I started to feel ananda...

Chariots of Fire

Nigel Havers as Lord Lindsay

I have been running barefoot on the beaches of Fire Island  for the past weeks.  It’s been transforming to my practice of running and just an absolute pleasure.   I park my car at Robert Moses Beach  Field 5 and have gotten as far as Cherry Grove, over 7 miles away–that day I took a few hours off before heading back. (Bronx 1/2 marathon end of the month–I hope I can do it!)

I kept being reminded of the iconic beach running scene in CHARIOTS OF FIRE which I had seen the year it came out.  I was definitely not a runner at that time, so since the film had been flashing  through my mind on every single run I took, I decided to Netflix it..

Talk about ‘running and praying’

I can’t believe how much I loved seeing this film again.  This time, I understood the elation and pain.  Although I am decidedly not a sprinter or a competitor, the actual visceral experience of running is best communicated in this film above others I have experienced–just look at this picture and see Lindsay’s runner’s high..everything about this film is gorgeous, the guys, the women , the clothes, the scenery.

I was about 20 years old when the film came out.  I really loved the Harold  Abraham story, the angst filled Jewish gentleman who ran to prove himself to the powers that were, and who agonized over every slight and defeat.  Now almost 30 years later, I very much more loved Eric Liddell, the man of God and conviction who refused to compete in the Olympics on a Sunday.  Two lines in the dialogue blurred Liddell’s strict observance of Christianity–one line (written by the actor who portrayed him, Ian Charleson) suggested that humans find God and strength within (perhaps a reference to the Holy Spirit?).  The second line, delivered by an American competitor, suggested that his choices were “something personal.”  I thought the writers portrayed this character in a way that could be generalized to all audiences, and it probably added to the appeal of the story.

The film I came to understand, was riddled with inaccuracies, but it led to such a satisfying story, I was quite alright with it.

The film inspired me to get on wikipedia and find out everything–very saddened to know that Ian Charleson who played Eric had died at age 40.  And of course,  I was reminded of the death of my old favorite, Brad Davis who played Jackson Sholtz, the American champion.  All that youth and beauty..gone too soon.

Last night when  I came home from running on the beach under purple skies at sunset my feet were nothing short of ecstatic about walking on the carpet, waves of pleasure rode through me…a runner’s high smile crossed my face, and the Vangelis score rang in my ears..

running and blogging

 

doing a little bit too little of either lately..but the running I have been doing has been spectacular–not in terms of my mileage or time, in terms of the views, up and down a mountain in Tuscany (twice), and on Far Rockaway, Queens in the rain.  Both were soul-lifting.

20 weeks from today

The Marine Corps Marathon is 20 weeks away.  It is time for me to get serious about training for it.  Today I ran/walked for over 2 hours in beautiful Hecksher Park, in my new Merrell Pace Gloves–my ‘barefoot’ shoes I had found in my closet basically fell apart.  I loved the ‘gloves’ as soon as I tried them on–they provide more support than did my others and a great freedom in the toes without the Vibram 5 finger look, although Vibram obviously engineered these, as the brand is stamped on the botttom.  I had enjoyed being anti-consumerist as well as barefoot, but I think these shoes will really work for me.  My legs were tired afterwards.  I am giving good love to my feet with shoes like these..but weekdays 9-5 have not given up heels..I still feel I need my work costume, complete with severe glasses which have clear glass in them to make me look more serious and studious…ah to spend all my days being real on the trail..